Internal Obstacles to Becoming Our Best

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In his book Christian Coaching, Dr. Gary R. Collins brings out four internal obstacles that can hinder us from being our best.  These four obstacles can create an environment that will not allow us to be all that God wants us to be.

The following are four points in defining internal obstacles from Collins book:

“Timothy Gallwey must have been surprised when his book The Inner Game of Tennis became a bestseller.  Some of the old pros and tennis instructors weren’t enthused about his approach, but players devoured it eagerly. Gallwey argued that most good players know all about techniques, but many fail to realize “the opponent within one’s head is more formidable than the one on the other side of the net.”  His new approach involved helping players recognize then remove or reduce the internal obstacles that get in the way of performance. Only then can the game flow more smoothly and performance improve.

In the years that followed his first book, Gallwey applied the principles to golf, music, and more recently to work. He argues that to thrive in the world of work, as in life, we need to deal with the inner obstacles of resistance to change, fear of failure, procrastination, stagnation, doubt, and boredom. These self-destructing thoughts undermine our confidence and need to be replaced by mental visions of our goals and a determination to pursue these unremittingly. He adds that having a coach to deal with obstacles and help people refocus attention can be as important in life and in the boardroom as it is on the tennis or basketball court.

While hundreds of internal obstacles might exist to hinder your success as a coach most fit into four categories.

First there are habits. We learn to do things in certain ways so that they happen automatically. When I make a turn in my car, I put on the turn signal. I do it without thinking; it’s a habit. It disrupts me if I try signaling in some other way – such as putting my arm out the window like they did in the days before turn signals. Some evidence even shows that habitual behavior gets implanted in our nervous systems, making change very difficult. Many of us work in the same habitual ways, respond to frustrations with the same reactions, or use similar approaches when we tackle new projects. If these old patterns don’t work very efficiently, we still try to use them because they are familiar, and usually we’re not even aware of their influence.” (Christian Coaching, Gary R. Colling, PH.D., NavPress, 2001,  pages 169-172)

“A second obstacle is fear. Moving out of our comfort zones and doing things differently is scary. A sports columnist in our local newspaper recently described a well-known coach who was rigid and uncontrollably abusive in treating his players.  “The general remains in his university bunker, reassured by those who blindly worship him, blaming it all on the idiot media, refusing to surrender as the world closes in on both sides.” The columnist went on to predict that despite his winning record, the “profane bully” coach would self-destruct, convinced to the end that he alone is right.” (Christian Coaching, Gary R. Colling, PH.D., NavPress, 2001,  page 172)

“Third, a whole group of obstacles relate to mind-set. This is the way we look at the world. Most of our perspectives on the world and on life are unconscious, influential, and well entrenched. They’re often accepted without question as attitudes that come from our parents or from other people who’ve significantly affected our lives.  I grew up hearing the message, “Other people aren’t interested in us.”  So in my family we rarely shared good news or bad with others.   At some point, I learned that celebrating is a waste of time. So to this day I prefer to ignore birthdays anniversaries, and I never celebrate a joyful day or accomplishment like the publication of new book – even though I know that celebrations can be good.  Sadly, I seem to have infused the same attitudes into my wife and kids.  It’s a hard mold to break and I’m working on it. “(Christian Coaching, Gary R. Colling, PH.D., NavPress, 2001,  pages 172-173)

“This leads to a fourth set of obstacles that relate to what we might call personal identity. For years I saw myself as a single graduate student. Soon after I got my degree, I got married and went to teach at a little college where I was a married professor. It was hard for me to shift my identity. I kept forgetting about the change and it took a while for me to fit into my new role. The same thing happens when people retire or change jobs.”  (Christian Coaching, Gary R. Colling, PH.D., NavPress, 2001,  page 174)

Closing Remarks

These four points in dealing with obstacles can help anyone trying to grow and develop in their life’s journey.

How are you doing with your internal obstacles?

How are you doing with your “habits” – your “fears” – your “mind-sets” and your “personal identity?”

Dale Roach

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